Though Meta has recently been forced to temporarily walk back some of its plans for platforms Facebook and Instagram due to unfavorable discourse among its audience, that hasn’t stopped the social media giant from pushing forward with updates to the popular apps.
On Thursday Instagram chief Adam Mosseri took to the interwebs to acknowledge the growing dissatisfaction with the app’s recent TikTok-like updates, with some users opening a test version of the app to reveal full-screen photos and videos. The test will be phased out over the next week.
“I’m glad we took a risk—if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Mosseri told Platformer in an interview. “But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup.”
While many users have repeatedly expressed their frustrations with the app, longing for the days when Instagram was just the place to go for photos from people you follow, it may just have been the high-profile Kardashians who tipped the scales, posting memes asking to “Make Instagram Instagram again.” While not unusual for the public to complain about new features or changes to its favorite apps, Instagram says the data actually does support users’ dissatisfaction, which obviously wouldn’t help with the platform’s goals (whatever they happen to be now).
While Instagram’s efforts to be more like its competitor TikTok rubbed some the wrong way, it’s most likely the app’s unwanted recommendations that have everyone in a tizzy. According to the CEO Mark Zuckerberg, recommended posts and accounts in feed currently account for more than 15% of what users see on Instagram, and the company had plans to more than double that by the end of 2023 (at least until recently). Mosseri says Instagram will be reducing the number of posts from people you don’t follow in response to user feedback—for now.
“When you discover something in your feed that you didn’t follow before, there should be a high bar—it should just be great,” Mosseri said in his interview with Platformer. “You should be delighted to see it. And I don’t think that’s happening enough right now. So I think we need to take a step back, in terms of the percentage of feed that are recommendations, get better at ranking and recommendations, and then—if and when we do—we can start to grow again.”
Despite its waffling plans, Instagram is still going forward with its Reels push, announcing recently that any new video post under 15 minutes will be shared as a Reel, giving users access to Reels’ creative editing tools. This is good news for brands: As public accounts they create Reels that are eligible to be recommended and seen by more users on Instagram. While the app says it will be slowing down the percentage of recommendations in any one feed, it didn’t say by how much.
For businesses, Instagram also recently announced that Reels can be boosted, turning the videos into ads in order to potentially reach more audiences. To be eligible for boosting, Reels must be less than 60 seconds, be filmed vertically with a full-screen format (9:16 aspect ratio), and not include any third-party IP address.
Stay tuned for updates on Meta’s future plans for the app.
Photo via InstagramFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine